As maternity leave comes to an end, many parents choose a childminder to look after their baby. But how do you find the right one? Check out our tips to help you find that one-in-a-million person who will be able to look after your little one (almost) as well as you!
1. Choose a childminder close to your home It sounds obvious, but in the stress of searching for a childminder, there can be a temptation to overlook this consideration. And yet, what a relief it is to be able to drop your child off close to home before setting out for work in the morning! Another option is to look for child care close to your workplace, or that of the child’s father. Be aware, however, that this implies that one parent will always be responsible for dropping off and picking up the child...
2. Look around the premises Where are the children cared for? Are they able to explore the whole house to their heart’s content, or is there one room that is set aside for them? Are there enough toys available to suit all ages? Will there be other people (the childminder’s spouse or children) present at the same time as your child? Is the house secure? Keep your eyes open and ask questions!
3. Find out about the activities offered All registered childminders belong to a childminders’ network (RAM). These networks usually offer activities for young children several times a week. Does your childminder attend these activities? Does she take the children to the park or out for a walk?
4. Ask how many other children are cared for alongside your own If your child is alone with the childminder, there is a risk that they will get bored after a few months. On the other hand, if there are too many children, the childminder may have difficulty giving each child the attention they need. It’s up to you to judge the right balance for your baby!
5. Choose a childminder who shares your views on child rearing Does your childminder have an uncompromising attitude towards discipline while you are more relaxed? Do you prefer to follow your child’s natural rhythms while the childminder wants everyone to eat and sleep at the same time? Don’t kid yourself: this will cause problems! While you can both make an effort, you cannot change your childminder’s way of life and approach to her work. It is therefore crucial to be on the same page immediately when it comes to major principles.
6. Talk about money Hourly rates, meal and housekeeping expenses, payment for public holidays, payment on a monthly basis... The contract terms and conditions must be absolutely clear from the outset. Be aware also that prices can vary enormously between different childminders.
7. Don’t be afraid to bring up sensitive issues Will your childminder agree to look after your child when they are ill? Is the childminder flexible with regard to hours? Will it be okay if you are a bit late if you have a busy afternoon at work? Does your childminder set her own holiday dates, or are they negotiable, enabling an arrangement that suits everyone to be found? It is better to have a frank discussion about these issues at the beginning of the process to avoid any unpleasant surprises later.
8. Take your child to meet the childminders you are considering Following an initial meeting between parents and childminders, don’t be afraid to ask for a second meeting with your preferred options to give your baby a chance to meet them. Watch closely: does the childminder approach your little one straight away? Does she know how to put your child at ease? Is she affectionate? Does your child seem to like her?
9. Go with your gut feeling Above and beyond all the concrete arguments in favour of a childminder, the main thing is to rely on your instincts: you are going to trust this person with that which you hold most dear, so it is essential that you feel at ease and have confidence in her!